Karl Magnone was an aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for beer when he noticed a gap in Quebec’s microbrew market. After conducting thorough market research and immersing himself in “beerology,” he and his business partner, Jérémie Poupart, opened Tite Frette, an atmospheric retail shop that specializes in 100% Quebec-made local microbrews, wine, and cider. Here, we speak to Tite Frette’s president and co-founder about the “Tite Frette Experience,” the uniqueness of made-in-Quebec alcoholic beverages and the decision to become a franchise.
On deciding to go into the beer business
In 2018, I really had a desire to change careers. I wanted to build my own dreams and not the dreams of others, so I started doing research on things that interested me. I started taking “beerology” classes, to study beer. I became a “beer scientist,” if you will. I had just discovered microbrews from the Dépareillée brewery, specifically Pépé beer, a blonde ale with five types of pepper that I was crazy about. I began to consider starting my own beer company. I did research and visited stores that resembled the idea I had in my head, and I noticed that there was a real need for a nicer, more organized, well-planned store, especially one with products 100% made in Quebec. The majority of microbrews in groceries and convenience stores always had a small section, compared to commercial beer.
I contacted Jérémie Poupart, who ended up becoming my co-founder. I told him I wanted to create a store that was a mix of vintage and modern and equally attractive to men and women, and in 2018, we created Tite Frette, the name of which was inspired by one of my favorite shows as a kid, KM/H. We decided to specialize in microbrews, wine and cider — 100% made in Quebec local products. After one month, we expanded, and after two months, we expanded again. The third month, we opened our second store in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and within one year, we had four stores.
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On the “Tite Frette Experience”
When you enter the Tite Frette universe, you’ll see everything has been planned out. First of all, you’re surrounded by a mix of vintage and modern decor. Everything is organized by style. The beers are explained in detail so you can make new discoveries. You’ll see you’ve entered an environment that is much more luxurious than a traditional convenience store. You will also be accompanied by our guides, who are trained at the “Tite Frette Academy.” Our philosophy is not necessarily to be snobby in our approach, but rather to help you make discoveries and understand the world of beer and wine. The guides will help you make your selections, recommend new discoveries, and also suggest pairings. So we really walk you through the process of knowing what each beer tastes like, what you can eat with it, in what order you should do a tasting. We’re there to guide you from A to Z through your discovery experience. It’s a non-judgmental and very welcoming environment. We want our customers to feel welcome and heard.
On the uniqueness of Quebec-produced alcoholic beverages
What fascinates me about products made in Quebec, microbrews, wine, cider, et cetera, is that they are made with a lot of love, a lot of feeling, and you see they were made by artists. It’s very artistic in principle. You start off with hops and malt, grapes for wine or apples for cider, and you end up with something highly complex with a huge variety of flavors. So each person can really find the perfect product for their taste. It’s really exciting to be able to discover something new. That’s what people love about alcoholic beverages from Quebec today: there’s such a large variety. It’s no longer like in the past with only 4% pale or light commercial beer. There’s pale beer, fruit beer, sour beer, beer made with “Brett” yeast, aged in a bourbon cask, and so on. So it’s really exciting, and there’s something for every taste. In Quebec we’re truly lucky, because we make some of the best microbrews in the world. Obviously, Vermont and Belgium are well-known, but if you compare them, in international competitions, Quebec always receives some of the highest ratings. It’s very exciting and exactly what we want to highlight in the store.
On the decision to create franchise opportunities
After consulting with business experts, we decided to launch the franchise model and to offer it to the public. We received over 400 requests, and now we have 28 stores. Many people have asked us why we decided on the franchise model, and the answer is very simple: a franchise is run by its owner, and in our opinion, no one has more conviction or passion than the store owner. They’re the one who will make sure the customer always has the best service. They’ll give that little extra touch that adds to the appeal and warmth of each store.
On how Square helped Tite Frette pivot to online sales and home deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic
When the pandemic crisis hit, we had to react quickly. We were very glad to have the all-in-one Square system because it allowed us, in a matter of only one week, to go online and to start offering home delivery to our customers. It’s literally what saved us, because if we hadn’t had delivery, sales would have plummeted. Customers were able to go directly to the ordering website, and the inventory was directly tied to the inventory of each store, which made payment processing extremely quick and efficient.
On how using Square products has contributed to the success of Tite Frette
What really grabbed my attention at first was the Square aesthetic. It was really the most attractive system which suited our store, which has a slightly more luxurious feel than other similar stores. We needed a turnkey system that was all-in-one, where we didn’t need to buy different software or equipment. We wanted something that would be simple for both the customer and the guide, as well as for business administration purposes. We really wanted an easy system, and Square was perfect. One of the conditions for choosing our point of sale system was the ability to have a large number of stores, and Square offers us this ability. They have a record with other franchises throughout North America. Square allows us not only to have multiple stores connected to one parent company platform, but it also allows us to control inventory management, sales reports throughout the entire network, and to have a clear view of our stores’ performance in real time.
We use practically all the tools Square offers because they’re so efficient. We love the point of sale, the payment system for customers, and Square Register. We also use inventory management to make sure everything is perfect, and we also use Square Team Management for managing employees’ schedules. On top of that, we use the online sales platform and delivery service, and we use the Loyalty app for points to reward our customers. It’s very important for us to reward loyal customers — we want to see how often the customer returns and their number of purchases. Having access to the real-time consumer habits of our customers helps us decide what type of products to offer in the store, what type of products to promote, and what type of product to recommend. It’s beneficial to have all this information, and Square provides it for us.
On the future of Tite Frette
The most important thing for us is to continue to offer the best customer service, the most enjoyable experience through the discovery process.
I’m very excited for the future, because Tite Frette and the families of franchisees will continue to open to make Quebec alcohol accessible and spotlight the microbrew industry. I’m very excited for the future of Tite Frette and the franchisees who support us in this adventure to shine a spotlight on Quebec. I sincerely believe that pretty soon we’ll have Tite Frette stores all over the province, and maybe even elsewhere in Canada, and all that is possible thanks to Square’s solid partnership.